Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We've moved to



The NEW blog is 

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Okay, THIS is really the end.

Just a friendly reminder...

Those of you who have subscribed to "documenting our days" and are STILL GETTING THIS in your RSS feed,  don't forget to change the link to:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The end

This is the last post of

It's been fun to blog here and "document our days" the last 3 1/2 years.  It has whet my appetite for writing, and has made me think about writing more seriously.

So, this is not the end of my blogging may really only be the beginning.

A HUGE thanks goes out to Kevin Dowker for the (I don't even WANT to know how many) hours of work he has put into this project.  It all started with a simple phone call on New Year's Day asking Kevin how to make TABS on my blog.  Six months and a bunch of hard work later, he has transformed it into this...

(drum roll, please....)

May it be...For the Glory of HIS Name (No....not Kevin Dowker's name--the name of Jesus.  My husband says this pronoun is rather ambiguous and I need to clarify).  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Historic Half-Marathon

I approach road races the same way I do childbirth:  lots of chap-stick, hydration, a good watch, and a motivational playlist on my IPOD.  For the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, it was no different.

In the spirit of race recaps (this is a link to the last time I ran this race) 
Here is My 2011 RACE REVIEW (Mile Markers are Approximate):

Mile 1:  I start in the way back so that psychologically I feel fast as I pass everyone.

Mile 3:  I feel like I'm in an inverted parade as people on the sidelines cheer, hand out Twizzlers and other goodies, and ring bells.

Mile 4:  A seventy year old man in front of me is running without a shirt.  I watch his love handles bounce up and down for awhile, contemplating entropy and other deep topics.

Mile 5:  People on the sidelines are passing out cups of water with a lime.  I pass by them, change my mind, and GO BACK so that I can get a drink.  I chug... and realize immediately they are passing out VODKA with a sugar-coated rim.

Mile 7:  A man with a long brown pony tail and abnormally large calves is wearing dainty women's sandals.  I take one headphone out of my ear and ask, "How's that working for you?" and hope that I don't sound snotty as I pass him.

Mile 8:  The shirt in front of me says Pain is temporary-Pride is Forever, and I contemplate whether or not that is true (Forever?  Really?),  and whether or not pride (regardless of how long it endures) should be the motivation.

Mile 9:  A man at the top of the biggest hill in the race is holding a sign that says, "Chuck Norris never ran a half-marathon."  I smile, find new inspiration, and tell Chuck Norris jokes to myself the rest of the way up the hill.

Mile 10:  Two-ton-calves-sandal-man is ahead of me now and I mentally take a laso, catch him, and reel him in (It's called mental imagery...WHAT?'ve never tried it?).  Once he's right in front of me,  I pretend like I'm in a wheelchair and he's pulling me (Don't knock it;  it works...kind of).

Mile 12:  I pass my car and wonder what the ramifications would be if I just hopped in and drove away.  I'm mad at myself that I can't sustain an 8 minute mile pace (even in the wheel chair) for the second half of the race.

Mile 13:  I have absolutely no reason to sprint to the finish line.  No one is waiting for me and no one there cares.  I am listening to a song on the IPOD and wondering how it got on my running playlist.

 "Jesus, I am resting, the joy of Who you are..."

It completely does not fit the occasion... but then fits in every way.

*Time:  1:59:20

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can't Not

When Melissa became a vegan, she was quick to say that it was most likely just the "next big thing."  We all laughed at her because 1. we've seen this pattern in her, but 2. we all can relate to this phenomenon that she put a name to.   I, too, have a tendency to get excited about something, spend a bunch of time and energy on it only to get sick of it and move on to the next thing that will bring an adrenaline rush.

In the last 6 months I've been working on a project...and quitting the project....picking it back up....and despising it....going back to it....wishing I had never started it....feeling motivated about it....feeling discouraged about it...loving it...hating it...but all along knowing that I can't NOT do it.

It's a vulnerable thing:  trying something.  Doing something.  Many days I'd rather not attempt anything at all, and just enjoy the benefits of what others have done. Other days I feel more ambitious and I desire not only to consume culture, but to create it.

I have no idea what will come of my efforts, and (as a friend just told me), I may never know.  Am I creating enough tension yet?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Stay tuned for the "UNVEILING".....

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I love to blog.  Ever since Clint Clifton explained this term to me and designed a blog to use during the Iceland Project, I have really enjoyed the new hobby.  I have found blogging to be a great outlet for creativity, a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family around the globe, and (surprisingly) a way to meet new people.

When we were in Iceland, I got a phone call from an American woman who found my blog and just happened to be in the area visiting family.  She came over for lunch, we found out she lives in Northern Virginia, and have kept in touch through facebook ever since.  Last week, she brought us dinner and gifts for the kids after moving houses (again).

Another woman found our blog on a google search while we were in Iceland, was planning on going through Iceland on her way to Europe, and asked if I needed anything.  At the time I was pregnant, and that generous woman stuffed her suitcase full of Kraft Spiral Mac and Cheese, Saltines, and maternity jeans and delivered them right to our door step in Reykjavik.

I could go on about the blog reader who sent us a BEYOND WORDS amazing gift this year or the blog reader who brought me curtains in Iceland (Johanna, did you want those back?), but really what I want to highlight are the blog readers who have given me ENCOURAGEMENT to keep writing.  The last year has not been the easiest, and I know I haven't recorded everything that I've gone through as thoroughly as I set out to do.  Recently, someone "chastised" me for not writing more about my experience with Gracie, and it really made me start to think...

All I'll say for now is that I have been taking VERY SERIOUSLY my New Year's Resolution of writing more and seeing where it leads to the point of paying for childcare every other week (You know that's gotta be serious).   More to be revealed soon...

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Cons of Homeschooling

And now the moment you've all been waiting for....

I've made it sound pretty good, huh?  Field trips, short school days, rich learning experiences for everyone, and math lessons over pancakes in our pajamas.  So, WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DO THIS?

Well, let me preface this by saying that these may not really be CONs of homeschooling, just CONs of MY first year homeschooling.  Maybe other moms who homeschool do not experience these CONS.  It might just be unique to me because I had a baby at the beginning of the school semester (a baby who had two open heart surgeries, mind you), moved two times, and lived in a town where I hardly knew any other homeschooling moms.


My biggest CON of homeschooling this year was the feeling of isolation.  Have you ever done a really hard work out with a group of people?  Because there is competition, conversation, and a sense of togetherness, the work out is tolerable and at times even enjoyable.  Try doing the same work out alone, and it's just plain harder.  There were some moments this year where I felt the tumbleweeds rolling by...those moments usually came when the only source of competition during math games and spelling bees were stuffed and/or plastic.

If you're an extrovert like me, it's essential to find a homeschooling co-op.  We were on the waiting list for one in our area all year long, but never got in.  This would not have been a con if I had quickly connected to other homeschooling families in the area and had more learning outings with others.


Homeschooling means that you are not only the Language Arts teacher, Math teacher, Science and History teacher, but you're also the cafeteria worker, the janitor, the nurse, the assistant principal, and the recess supervisor.  After trying to, also, give attention to the specials such as art, music, computers, PE, and library, you are the bus driver and the after-school care.

I vacillated between two extremes all year long:
1. trying to give my kids an above-average learning experience in all of the above mentioned categories and wearing myself out....
2. or doing the bare minimum and then feeling guilty that I wasn't doing more.


If you choose to homeschool, you need to be both confident in your reasons and prepared for the criticism.  You need to learn how to maneuver through conversations with a lump in your throat while you are being critiqued on an area of your home-schooling you feel insecure about. You need to be able to stomach the comments people will make about how lousy of an education home-schoolers receive,  disregard the soliloquies about socialization, and be confident that you are doing what is best for your child at that particular point in time.


Let me illustrate with a story:

The other day I heard a story of a girl who had a normal public school experience all the way through high school.  There were no issues with this girl until she went away to another state for college.  After being dropped off, there was heightened anxiety, severe home-sickness, multiple trips back home, and an inability to stay focused on her school work.  Finally the parents decided it was best for their daughter to attend a local college where these issues wouldn't come up.

I laughed out loud when I heard this story.  Not because I'm a cold-hearted snake, but because IF THAT GIRL HAD BEEN HOME-SCHOOLED, WE NEVER WOULD HEAR THE END OF IT.  I guess that's just what comes with the territory.  Home-schooling is different, so it's put under the microscope more.


So, there you have it.  Just like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to educating your kids at home.  As far as what we'll do next year, we'll just have to wait and see where we are living and assess it then.  For us, the choice to homeschool is not a final one.  Each year, we have to assess what is best for each of our kids in light of what is going on in our lives.  It's a decision that will be given a lot thought and prayer.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 4

I've alluded to this in other posts, but I have found a huge advantage of homeschooling is being able to determine what curriculum* my children spend their day studying and discussing.  During our unit on Egypt, many questions came up about death and the afterlife.  I was thankful that I was able to direct the discussion on these difficult matters, point my kids to the Bible for answers, and freely point out the wrong thinking of our ancestors (Don't be tempted to call me narrow-minded...Do YOU really think our ancestors in Egypt went to eternal joy in the afterlife if--and ONLY IF--their dead heart weighed the same as a feather?!).

During the Advent season, we spent time learning the Christmas story and during Lent, highlighted the significance of the Easter.  I know many Christians who do a good job teaching their kids and instilling in them Christian values even though they are in public school.  That is not the point.  I'm simply observing, after home-schooling for the first time, that it is a big advantage to be in control of your curriculum.

*The curriculum we chose this year:
Sonlight: Language Arts and History
MathUSee:  Math
Random books from Tracee Pelt:  Science and Social Studies

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


In late March, I got pulled over for the first time in my life. I was on my way to a pediatric cardiologist appointment in Charlottesville and had even made a commitment that morning to NOT, under any circumstances, speed. That commitment apparently only lasted 20 minutes because on Route 3 a sheriff flagged me down and gave me a ticket. I felt distraught...ashamed...helpless.

There was only one hope: a court date on May 3rd.

Today I woke up and rushed the three girls out the door to the Spotsylvania General District Court. I was shaky because I didn't know what I should plead nor what to expect, but I tried to sell it to the kids as a fun field trip.

"Will there be a KID'S SECTION at this courtroom?" Haley wondered.

The more she learned about what to expect from our outing, the more unimpressed she became. A room full of people who had done bad things, a judge, and a lot of waiting. Oh, and a long drive to the other county.

"Can you please not call this a field trip?" She asked, rolling her six-year old eyes.

We listened to Part Four of Mere Christianity as we made our way down south of the Rappahannock. After getting lost deep off of exit 126 and having to stop twice to ask for directions, I was getting more and more nervous as the clock edged closer to 9:30. I stepped on the gas and then realized the irony of the situation: speeding so that I could go to court to pay a speeding ticket. Haley was getting carsick on the curvy roads and I was beginning to regret not just paying the fine online. We arrived at the Spotsylvania Courthouse at 9:31 and, after digging through a suitcase in our car to look for a pacifier, had to jog through the unfamiliar campus to find the General District Court. Once inside the right building I was informed that cell phones were not allowed to even ENTER the courtroom. I tried to explain that my cell phone was dead, it's charger far away in Pennsylvania so it wouldn't disrupt in any way, but the sherriff kindly told me to either go back to my car or hide it in the bushes outside.

We akwardly reversed ourselves back out the door and I attempted to hide my phone in the mulch pit so no criminals could find it. Back through security check-in and, this time, I passed. As I opened the double doors to go in the court room I noticed multiple signs saying the same thing: No shorts allowed.

I stared at the sign. I stared down at my shorts. Was this whole hour-long trip in vain? Would the judge refuse to speak to me since my calves were exposed? I tried to imagine how long it would take me to safety pin the car mats together to make a skirt and then remembered: I had suitcases still in the car from our Pennsylvania trip. I told the kids to hold on to either side of the stroller and we ran to the parking lot where I threw on jeans and hoped the construction workers weren't looking.

Through security check-in for the third time, and this time they wished me luck and waved to the baby who had now become comfortable enough to coo at them. We took our seats by the aisle and had just gotten settled with our Highlights magazines when Gracie's pacificer did a projectile launch down the aisle and she let out a jubilant "WAwaWAwaWAWAWAWA!"

A sheriff came over and asked us to wait in the hallway until our case was called. At this point I was ready to go to the public library down the street and pay the fine on a computer. We waited in the hallway on the floor until we were called to the front. The judge was trying to hide his smile as Gracie was gnawing on her toes and asked me for my statement. I sighed. What could I say? I told him that I was guilty and that I had come simply to ask for mercy. The kids, dressed in their Easter dresses, blinked at him with their baby blues. He sighed, looked through my flawless record, gave me $50 off the ticket and sent me on my way.

I think I spent almost that much to GET to the courthouse, but nonetheless...a rich learning experience indeed. Over brunch I got to teach my girls about the dangers of speeding and this evening in our prayers we thanked Jesus for being our advocate before the Great Judge and for giving mercy even when we are found guilty.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Learning to Chew

My best friend from Wisconsin recently became a Christian.  What I love most about talking with Melissa Kane Snider is that she is not versed in Christian lingo nor learned in evangelical expressions.  Conversing with her and her experience of following Jesus is fresh and life-giving.

Recently Melissa asked me if I had read any C.S. Lewis.

"Yes,"  I answered proudly.  "Colby is reading the Chronicles of Narnia to the kids every night before bed."

I could almost hear her rolling her eyes over the phone.

"No..not his children's fiction.  Have you read any of his adult level books?"

I went on the explain that I found his style too heavy and his points too thick to chew.  I simply did not have time in my life to take a fine tooth comb to my theology and splice hairs with Lewis.

She sounded disappointed.  "Everyone always says that.  Why do so many Christians think that?"

After hanging up the phone I began to consider my lazy habits as a Christian.  Maybe instead of complaining about the thickness of the meat, I needed to work at strengthening my jaw.  Thinking about the deeper things of God to the end that I could articulate them better to others.  Enough Christian Living easy reading.   The time had come to delve into the Christian classics.

Now, don't applaud me yet.  I've only been listening to his most famous work, Mere Christianity, in the car while i go places, but it's a start.  I'm not sure if it's easier or harder to do it that way.  I feel like I have to listen to his paragraphs two or three times before I feel ready to move on to the next section.  Sometimes I'll pause it to just reflect or pray that the truths will sink deep into my bones.  It's truly an amazing work.

As I've been listening, I am both inspired and defeated as a writer.  Inspired because I know that I, too, want to spend my life writing about my journey with God and defeated because I could never in my wildest dreams be as articulate as he.  But I digress from the point entirely (Hey!  That sounded EXACTLY like something He would say!).

Today I'm blogging about this book because...when I find something good, I want EVERYONE I know and love to also experience it.  If you're a Christian, this book will deepen you in places you didn't even know needed strengthening.  And, if you're not a Christian, you really should be.  I'll let C.S. Lewis tell you all the reasons why.  You can order it HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 3

Because my kids are only in Kindergarten and first grade, we only spend two hours a day doing school.  The reality is, that's all the time you really need to do lessons; homeschooling takes less time than a public school day.  That means all sorts of things:  We have longer weekends, longer vacations, more family time, more time to develop other interests, and more time to be involved in church-related activities and/or help people in need.  

I think a huge advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility you have with your schedule and your life.  Because we're in ministry, every day is different.  Some evenings my husband has meetings until 11:30 pm (or even later!).  We see him more since we don't have to rush to the bus stop first thing in the morning.

When we found out our baby was in need of two open heart surgeries this year, we knew our lives would consist of a lot of time in the hospital and at Doctor's appointments.  Having the flexibility to make our own schedule each day is one of the biggest reasons we chose to homeschool this year (that and the fact that we didn't know where we were going to live this year!).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Colby preached a great message on Sunday on Romans 1:18-25:  The Invisible God.  Probably the best message I've heard on that passage. CLICK HERE and scroll down to the right to see it.  That's my boy!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 2

Another big advantage of homeschooling (especially in this area) is the opportunity to reinforce your lessons with field trips. We have really taken advantage of living only 35 minutes from our nation's capitol and used it to our advantage. For example...

Math SOL 1.3: The student will count backward by ones from 20.

On one of the "it-is-too-perfect-weather-to-be-inside" days this year, we headed to DC for a picnic. Since I knew we were focusing on this standard, all day long as we crossed the streets, we counted down from 20 with the streetlights. By the end of the day, this skill was mastered! And we all got a fun break from the daily grind.

Science SOL 1.5: The student will investigate and understand that animals have life needs and specific physical characteristics.

We happened to schedule this just right by going to DC's National Zoo on that gorgeous 70 degree day in February. For the first part of our time there, we discussed and pointed out habitats, coverings, defense mechanisms (no, not MINE...animal's....), and life needs.

History SOL 1.2: The student will describe the stories of American leaders (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington) and their contributions to our country.

This one was too easy. Lunch on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (complete with reading the Gettysburg Address) and the National Museum of American History where the exhibit Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life showcased many artifacts from his life including one of his top hats.

I'll stop there because I think you get the idea, but my kids have visited numerous Civil War battlefields, George Washington's home and grave, the White House, an art studio in Old Town Alexandria, and many of the Smithsonian Museums. I realize that some people don't have access to our (free!) National Museums, but I think the world is a classroom and there are many rich learning moments everywhere. A big advantage of homeschooling is getting to show them to your children yourself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 1

As I've started "officially" homeschooling this year, I've become acutely aware of the many pros and many cons of this educational style.  I think we've all seen homeschooling gone wrong, but in an effort to look at the positive side,  my next couple of posts on the blog will be focusing on the pros of homeschooling.  In all fairness, at the end I'll share what I've found to be the cons.

Okay, today's pro will be quick:  ST. PATRICK'S DAY

I feel like I might be learning more than my kids this year.  Yes, I realize that I'm teaching kindergarten and first grade, but before today, I had never taken any time to actually find out who this guy St. Patrick was.  Today we read an article about this British-born man who was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave and his life as a missionary in Ireland.  WHO KNEW?  Today, on what is thought of to be the anniversary of this Saint's death, we prayed for missionaries we know around the world and talked about people we could share the hope of Christ with.  We hunted for three leafed clovers and discussed how St. Patrick used them as an illustration to teach the doctrine of the Trinity.  All in all, it was a pretty rich lesson found in the most unexpected place for me.  I had never been taught any of that!  Most kids will come home from school today with green pencil erasers or clover-shaped art projects, but have no clue the significance behind the man we celebrate today.  Being able to have a say in what my kids spend their day studying is definitely a pro of homeschooling.  

Christ Beside Me
Christ Before Me
Christ Behind Me
Christ Within Me
Christ Beneath Me
Christ Above Me

-Saint Patrick

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Fundraiser

When the kids were in PA for 10 days during Gracie's surgery, they spent hours doing Perler Bead Projects.  Now we have a huge zip loc bag full of these things.  Darcy came up with the idea to have a store, and I guided the entrepreneurial effort by suggesting the profits could go to the local crisis pregnancy center.  We had a speaker from CARE NET Pregnancy Resource Center come the other week and the kids have been filling up a baby bottle with change to give to this organization.  If anyone is interested in buying some of their products, let us know! We will have our "store" in the bag wherever we go the next few weeks.  The store has also expanded to include the boat Haley made at the Children's Museum, a purse Haley made from old fabric and tape, and buttons that Darcy found who-knows-where.  They're not as tasty as girl scout cookies, but we hope to fill many baby bottles with change from this fundraiser!

Monday, March 7, 2011


We started out by taking a family walk through Prince William Forest Park and doing the circuit trail with all the fun exercises.
Next on the agenda:  Fly the kite that I bought last fall for $1.00.

When I bought it, I dreamed of taking it to the DC's Kite Festival in March.  We needed a little practice first before the big day.  After trying to undo a huge knot from the previous owner, we were ready to roll....

And, we're off...


that only lasted a total of three seconds before it nose dived.

  Colby said if he was Jason Pelt or Brett Garman he would fiddle with it to fix the bearings,
but really that means....

Maybe next year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

1 John 4:18

It all started when I read Haley's writing assignment for Thanksgiving:  Tell me something that you're thankful for A-Z.  Most kids would happily write of apples, balloons, cats, and ducks.  Not my Haley Jane.

Listen to letter A: I am thankful that Aligatrs are not in are howse.
Letter B:   I am thankful that nuthing Bit me.
Fast forward to Letter X:  I am thankful I nevr so a fox.

Haley is acutely aware of all the traumatic things that could possibly occur in this world, and this Thanksgiving, she is just thankful that none of them have happened to her yet.

Today as we were having a picnic lunch out on the patio, a black bug the size of a molecule landed on Haley's shoulder and she began to cry...uncontrollably.  She started to bring her lunch inside where she could eat in peace, but I intercepted her before she got to the door.

"Haley, you are NOT going inside;  this is RIDICULOUS."  I was firm.

"MOM..."  she wined, "Almost EVERYONE in our family has been stung by a bee (Only Colby and I have ever been stung), and I DON'T want to get stung."

"Okay, you know what?"  I was starting to come up with a plan.  "Come here.  Sit on my lap."

I had to pick her up and carry her stiff little body over to my patio chair because she wouldn't comply.

"Now, I want to talk to you about this.  What's your BIGGEST FEAR?"

She didn't even take a moment to think about it, "Getting stung, getting bit, getting run over by a car, getting our house burned down, earthquakes..."  I had to cut her off.

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down...."

Pause for a second.  Okay, before you write me off as an insensitive mother, I think it's called cognitive restructuring therapy and I read about it during my class COUNSELING METHODS.  We all have fears, and as you can probably tell by my offspring, I struggle with many of them.   I guess since it's one of my weaknesses, I've had to learn how to manage them.

When Gracie was getting ready for her second surgery, I was going through--what I can now look back and see to be--major stress:  inability to accomplish small tasks, numbness in my face, and trouble sleeping.  As I was talking to Eileen, it became clear what my main fear was.  I kept envisioning sitting in the waiting room  during her surgery and seeing the doctor walk grimly and apologetically into the room with the worst news a parent can hear.  I thought that I was doing myself a favor, preparing myself for this scene.  Almost as if...if it did happen, I would be ready because I had already practiced my response.  My husband says that I do this as a way of trying to control my environment, and I can't really disagree with his assessment.  However, in my attempt to control the future and prepare myself for the worst, I didn't take away any of my stress.  I only added to it.

My friend's advice was simple, yet profound.  GO THERE.  Go to the waiting room that is laced with darkness and anxiety, fear and trepidation and watch the doctor walk in with tears running down his face.  Imagine that you are sitting there and your biggest fear happens.  Now picture Jesus there in the waiting room with you, holding you while you get the news.

Back to the conversation on the deck:

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down....AND Jesus was right there with you, comforting you.  Would that be so bad?"

She leaned her head on my chest as I continued, smiling as if she liked this exercise.

"I mean, think about it.  Bethanee's house burned down to the ground.  And, when you saw her last night, was she still crying about it?  Your worst fear HAPPENED to her...and she's fine."

"Yeah...I guess,"  she admitted, rather sheepishly.  

I guess this is what Paul is trying to communicate in Philippians chapter four.  "The LORD is AT HAND.  BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God."  We don't have to worry about the future because God is with us (in the present and the future) and will send His peace to guard our hearts and minds like a soldier faithfully standing watch.  

As I look back at Haley's Thankful journal, a theme emerges:  she is afraid of pain.  I think that's the common denominator for all of us.  Losing a loved one is scary for us because we don't want to experience the pain of loneliness and grief.  Interestingly enough, dying is not one of the things Haley is afraid of.  As she was listing off her fears, she caught herself before adding death and said, "Well, dying is not so bad because then I don't have to even WORRY about bees or fires or earthquakes or getting run over."

It was at that moment that Darcy looked up from her water experiment on the ground and added, "Are there CARS in heaven?  Cause I know there's streets of GOLD."

I'm not sure, Darcy.  All I know is that it is a place where there is no fear.

Because Perfect Love casts out Fear (I John 4:18).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Green Grass

On Tuesday, I was having a funk day. It was probably just fatigue after a jam-packed weekend, but nonetheless, every little chore felt monumental. I was sitting in a exhausted stupor after lunch watching the kids nag each other, despairing that all my training and hard work with them had been in vain. This came after a discouraging day homeschooling as Haley's backwards 5s and Zs almost sent me to the psychiatric ward. So there I was, thinking how I needed find a better job and dreaming about the green grass on other side of the fence, when the moment came. Darcy had put a saddle and reins on Haley and was riding her around the living room. Suddenly, the rodeo got violent, Haley reared on her hind legs, Darcy fell off backwards, and Haley stood up, exclaiming, "My tooth! I lost my first tooth!"

As I was cleaning up the blood, I thought how ironic it was that not only I WAS THERE for this landmark event, but I also was watching as it happened.  Sure, being at home with your kids can be mundane and discouraging, but it also allows for days like today.  I got to watch as Haley paid her sister two dollars for her assistance in getting the tooth out (It had been loose for months, but Haley was too scared to ever wiggle it!), and help Haley spell some words for her letter to the tooth fairy (Dear tooth farey, can you plese leave the tooth?  I realy like it.)  We also discovered that Gracie was getting her FIRST tooth, so it turned into an all-out-Tooth-Day-Tuesday celebration complete with balloons and bananas (hey, cut me a break;  they kind of look like teeth).

After getting a power nap that was cheaper and much more effective than a mental institution,  the day ended with this conversation:

Haley:  Mom, can you please sneak into my room after I fall asleep and leave me a little special somethin' somethin' under my pillow?

Me:  Well...uh....what about the tooth fairy?

Haley:  I don't believe in the tooth fairy.  I....I.....I just believe in God.

I think I'll keep my job.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Old Guard Fife & Drum Military Demonstration at Mount Vernon...

                                          ...and my two year old niece's reaction.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

President's Day Weekend

I don't think we've ever done President's Day weekend right before.  This year we did it justice, thanks to the Pennsylvania Garmans coming down for a visit.  The weekend included a twelve passenger van, twenty dollars worth of parking at the National Zoo (where we witnessed an ape repeatedly drinking its urine), forty-five degree weather at Mount Vernon (Brett, you told me it would be 70 degrees!), seven kids, three strollers, two hours at the Smithsonian Air and Space Center, and one failed bowling outing.  I think I smell a tradition starting...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Mom

Every February, my mom visits us.  This tradition started back in February of 2003 on a snow day.  I will still in my pajamas, and Colby suddenly got very concerned that we didn't have any milk.  He insisted that at the very moment, we HAD to BOTH go to Food Lion and pick some up.  I threw a coat on and followed him, feeling very confused.

We walked through the aisles, and I kept looking around, not sure what was going to happen.  Then it happened.  I heard the same dog whistle that my mother had always used to find us when we got separated in a store.  I looked over by the eggs, and there she was.  My mother, in a red feather boa, singing Let Me Call You Sweetheart (I sincerely apologize to everyone out there who does not have a mom who is nearly this fun).  So, the tradition began.  Last year, she even flew to Iceland for her annual visit.

This year's visit included Bull Run Battlefield in Manassas, lots of bargain shopping, and lots of episodes of The Middle.  The highlight of the trip, however, came when we were driving on 395 North to Reagan National Airport... and she tried to convince me that if we wore HELMETS in the car, the chances of us getting into an accident and getting brain damage would significantly decrease.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Always Missing

I think this picture pretty much sums up my life.

No matter how hard I try, there is always one sock missing.

The other day we had two appointments on the calendar.  I rehearsed with the kids our schedule for the day, I packed lunches, I made sure I had a bottle ready, and I even got the house all picked up so that it would look perfect when we returned home.  I was trying so hard.  We checked off all the subjects for school, we all had clean bodies and all the kids nails were finally trimmed.  Then, fearing that Colby's rather casual pace would make us late to the appointment, I tried to motivate him by using an abrasive tone and shame tactics.  In my desperate attempt to execute the day perfectly, I failed.

Lesson Learned:  I will NEVER have it totally together.

Not only will I never attain perfection, but neither will my house.

Even if there IS a moment
when the last of the laundry is folded and put away,
the kitchen sink is empty and shiny,
the carpet's vacuum lines are freshly parallel,
the bathroom smells good,
the dust has all been eradicated,
and the toothpaste has all been chiseled from the sink...

It will only last...until somebody moves.

Even if I did somehow manage to keep my house to looking like a museum, I will still fall short in my relationships, snap at my mom when she puts cups on the wrong rack of the dishwasher, or passive-aggressively punish Colby with silence when he chooses to read the Drudge Report instead of participating in garage-cleaning day.  And, if I'm able to make it a whole day where I'm not critical of my husband and I only rebuke my kids in gentleness and love, there are inevitably attitudes of my heart that still miss the mark of perfection.

One sock is always missing.

This is rather new concept for me.  Not that I wasn't taught verses like Romans 3:23 or 3:10.  I knew in theory that I was a sinner, but since I've become a wife and mother I have come to a new knowledge that has been both breaking and beautiful.  I realize now more than ever how desperate I am for Jesus and His grace.  I will never have it together and that's okay.  He is the only one who did.  As I learn to live in an imperfect world and in an imperfect body, I rest on His righteousness that makes me whole.  I hope you do too.

Gracie's Grandmas

I learned how to post bigger pictures...yes!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Latest...

Gracie has done PHENOMONAL the last 3 weeks since her open-heart surgery.  I took her to the doctor's on Wednesday and got the news:  I can start to treat her like a normal baby again.  For us that means picking her up under her arms, putting her in her jumper, and bathing her normally (Brett, I don't even want to hear it...).  

Here's what we've done recently to celebrate:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Going Home: Day Five

Gracie is ready to be released from the hospital! We will probably be gone by noon today. She has recovered extremely fast and seems almost totally free of pain with only a little tylenol to cut it down. As of last evening we could really see that she was begin to act like she normally does. So, we will spend the night at the house in Crozet and make our way back to Dumfries tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recovery: Day Four

Last night Gracie left the PICU. This morning she had her chest tube out. She has just one more line that needs to come out and she will not have any left. She is eating well and her appetite is starting to pick up. Were not sure yet how many more days she'll need at the hospital, but she is doing great.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recovery: Day Three

Gracie looks great this morning! She continued to have a good appetite through out the day, remained pretty comfortable, and has resumed playing with her binky. There is a chance she may move out of intensive care today since she is doing so well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recovery: Day Two

Gracie looks a lot more comfortable this morning than she did last night. She has been eating 2-3 ounces at a time and seems much happier. She was awake for a while this morning and staring at us without crying and fussing. As you can see, she looks quite a bit better than yesterday right after surgery.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Broccoli with Lemon Juice

For making it to the top of the staircase on one of her positive-behavior- reinforcement charts, Darcy earned a ticket for a date with the parent of her choice.  She chose me.  I was flattered and whisked her off one evening to Panera for dessert by the fireplace.  I had run across an article about taking time to ask your children questions and really listening to their answers. As she sipped on her smoothie and nibbled on her cornbread, I took some of the suggested questions in an effort to get to know my middle child better.

"Darcy,"  I began as she crawled in my lap.  "What is something that mommy does that you wish she wouldn't do?"  I cringed as I awaited her response.  It had not exactly been a stress-free year.  Between trying to homeschool her older sister to taking care of her baby sister, surely I had lost my temper with her a few times.  I'm sure she'll ask me to not get so loud when I'm frustrated.  Or maybe she'll ask that I don't grab her arm so tightly when I'm trying to get her to listen to me.  Perhaps she'll ask me to use less hostile methods to get her to obey.

"Well..."  I braced myself for her answer.  How could I reverse the scars that I've given my child?  "Can you please not give me broccoli ever again?"  I furrowed my brow as I tried to understand.  "I only like broccoli with lemon juice."

Kids are so resilient.  So forgiving.  I've made so many mistakes that I've feared to be irreversible, but here all Darcy can complain about is the dish of broccoli that I apparently forgot to season with lemon juice.
Haley and Darcy, as you are in Pennsylvania this week with Grandparents, please know that I love you and miss you.  Soon we'll be together again, restored, refreshed, and healed.  I look forward to the time we'll have catching up over a freshly steamed plate of lemon broccoli.

The Champ: Part 2

There she is! Gracie continues to remind us that she is one tough character. We are so glad that everything has gone so well and look forward to her getting through the next couple of days as restfully as possible. She is really uncomfortable, as one would expect, but the doctors and nurses are taking great care of her. Here is the flashback from August.

Real live baby doll

I came downstairs to the playroom the other day to find Gracie like this on the floor. Her sisters must have had a fun time playing dress up with her; Gracie just kicks and coos and loves all the attention.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Glenn

That's the name of the surgery Gracie is having tomorrow morning. For the curious reader you can go check it out. For the rest of you, it will suffice to say that it is a 4-5 hour open-heart surgical procedure that will help Gracie maintain a tolerable Oxygen saturation in her blood for the next couple of years. If all goes well, we should be looking at a 4-6 day stay at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA. Stay tuned for updates throughout the day and thank you for your support and prayers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Arranged Friendship

This is Gracie's BFF, Ainsley (Josh and Jadey Burke's daughter), who came over to play. She was born less than a month after Gracie. I think--by default--they will be friends for life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

1.  Being able to spend cold mornings inside by the fireplace talking about Egypt, mummies, souls, pyramids, and the afterlife.  (Yes, we still have our Christmas tree up.  Don't judge me.)
1.  Having a mountain of unused toilet paper on the bathroom floor for the next week.